LATHAM, N.Y. – The New York State Credit Union League is poised to become the first U.S. state league to have the World Council of Credit Unions’ International Partnership with a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico. Last month, three League leaders – president/CEO William Mellin, board chairman John Giberdi, and New York Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Diane LaVigna Wixted – were joined by other U.S. credit union representatives and WOCCU International Partnership manager Victor Corro on a trip to San Juan to lay the groundwork for the partnership. During the visit, presentations were made to representatives from more than 10 Puerto Rican CUs. “Given the large Puerto Rican population that exists in New York State, there is a commonality between Puerto Rico and New York,” said Mellin. So once the league decided a partnership with Puerto Rico’s credit unions was the best match, it made its desire known to WOCCU and got the ball rolling. Like the U.S., Puerto Rico has a dual chartering system. There are 27 federal credit unions that report to NCUA and are regulated by the same rules and regulations as federal credit unions in the U.S. In addition there are 140 “native” CUs – the equivalent of state-chartered credit unions – that are regulated by the major Puerto Rican regulatory body, COSSEC. These CUs have unrestricted fields-of-membership, which Mellin says means anyone who lives or works in Puerto Rico, can join a native CU. Together there are one million members of the territory’s 167 credit unions. Considering the strong similarities between credit unions in the U.S. and Puerto Rico puts the U.S. territory “in an ideal position to both benefit from and offer much to a Partnership,” said Corro. In the next step towards an official International Partnership status, representatives from Puerto Rican credit unions will travel in the Spring 2005 to Albany and visit with CUs there. The New York State Credit Union League and WOCCU hope that visit will culminate in the signing of a formal partnership agreement. -

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